By Lucy Castellanos
This past March, the annual NCAA Basketball tournament was held, after being completely canceled a year prior. Taking into account the protocol requirements for COVID-19, the NCAA announced that the athletes from 68 men’s teams would be secluded/confined to the city of Indianapolis for the duration of their survival in the tournament, while the 64 women’s teams would play in San Antonio, Texas. This being said, the NCAA had to manage food, exercise equipment, practice space, and other necessary supplies for all athletes. Upon each team’s arrival, the men’s teams were met with gourmet buffets, and a weight room spanning hundreds of square feet. However, the women’s teams were met with a single shelf of weights and a couple of yoga matts.
Appalled by the blatant sexism that the NCAA was demonstrating, Oregon’s Sedona Prince decided to spread the word through Tik Tok and Twitter, immediately catching the attention of millions. Thousands of people were just as outraged, expressing across social media their disappointment with how the NCAA was treating the women’s tournament. To attempt to defend themselves, the NCAA said it was an issue of space, when in reality, it was the excuse that the men generated more “revenue” and money than the women’s tournament did, hence the clear difference in resources. As the tournament continued, the NCAA made significant changes to the women’s weight rooms and food, trying to make up for not immediately providing it. However, if not for the women’s players expressing their dissatisfaction with the NCAA, efforts to improve their experience at the tournament would have never happened. In addition, with Prince’s video drawing so much attention, the number of viewers for the women’s tournament notably increased. In order to work towards complete equality in sports, we have to continue calling people or organizations out when there is favoritism/special treatment being shown towards the men’s side.
As a player myself, hoping to make it to Division 1 basketball, it was discouraging to see that not a lot of change has been accomplished. Every young female athlete hopes to be able to make it to a stage as big as the NCAA tournament, but hopefully in the future making it there will be just as important as when the men do it.